LOCATION: My target is located on Station Road (A 3046) in Chobham village, at a roundabout with the High Street.
FORECOURT: The medium-sized forecourt is easily visible with its large brick-built and tiled building covering the pumps and Esso-branded pole. Illuminated fuel prices show that the cost of fuel is competitive. The pole also promotes Shop’N Drive, Synergy fuel technology, Tesco Clubcard, Costa Express and an off licence open 24 hours. Access to the four pump islands is a little tight, but during my visit, shop and refuelling drivers managed well. Parking for shop-only customers is restricted and more difficult.
The distinctive Esso Synergy signing is clear and all the pumps were in excellent condition working, clean and bright. The forecourt is bursting with shop offers such as the Lottery and Costa Express but mostly a variety of ’Wow! Super deals’ promoted on free-standing poster boards around the site. Perhaps, too many different offers for any one to make an impact?
Forecourt services include a free-to-use ATM, an air line and Calor gas. Newspapers, flowers, BBQ supplies and other offers are smartly merchandised along the front of the shop.
Right at the pavement edge of the forecourt is a hedge through which brambles have been allowed to grow to such an extent that they are very close to being a pedestrian hazard.
To the rear of the site is a car wash and jet wash unit.
SHOP: The shop fascia is dominated by the Shop’N Drive corporate sign; it also promotes Costa Express and 24-hour opening.
The shop is not large but is bright and inviting. My immediate needs were met a coffee and pastry (yes, one of the Wow! offers) and this gave me a little time to look around. It’s a very clean, neat and well merchandised shop.
There are a number of phone accessory type non-food displays and lots of valuable shelf space given to convenience range products. I wonder if all the lines justify there space? A restricted range of groceries together with bread and milk meet basic ’top-up’ essentials.
Two Costa Express units, a cabinet for pastries, sandwiches, soft drinks and other snack products are available to meet the growing demand for food-to-go.
Current space and layout restrictions exclude the availability of fresh produce, local artisan products and a toilet.
Well done to the excellent member of staff who directed me to the local public convenience and was friendly and speedy.
PROGNOSIS: Chobham Shop’ N Drive is part of the ever-growing Rontec empire. Aware that some of the recent Rontec store acquisitions require trading formats more suited to larger stores, it has formed a partnership with Morrisons using the Morrisons Daily format.
DIAGNOSIS: The convenience marketplace remains challenging and ever-changing.
Consumers are increasingly shopping little and often and are doing more of it in local stores. They are looking for fresh and chilled foods, local products, meal solutions and food-to-go. So, lots of potential for Chobham Shop’N Drive.
PRESCRIPTION: The Chobham Shop’N Drive site has local competition very close is a Tesco and Co-op supermarket.
My visit to Chobham Shop’N Drive was a positive and its one benefit in comparison to local competition is that it sells fuel.
I would like to see a reduction in the number of promotional boards.
Limited space will always restrict the range but the elimination of duplicate and slow sellers may free up space for some limited range diversification, such as local products, to the benefit of customers and thus sales.
Finally, the boundary hedge needs some urgent attention.